Western philosophy, as it provides context for later theological developments, has its roots in the Greece of the sixth through fourth centuries BCE, becoming most definitively cast in the work of Plato and his successor Aristotle. These two thinkers tower over fourth-century BCE Athens. In tandem or in tension, they shape the schools which will later in significant part interact with Christian theology at the points of its origin and development. This unit gives detailed philosophical consideration to Plato and Aristotle in turn, not neglecting the pre-Socratic philosophers upon whom they build, and their respective contributions to the art of reasoning itself.

Unit code: AP3729P (Approved)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit discipline: Philosophy

Proposing College: Pilgrim Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Discuss the thought of Plato and Aristotle in relation to that of pre-Socratic philosophers


Show insight into the approaches of the two philosophers to key questions of being, truth and ethics


Outline and thoughtfully assess the arguments by which they respectively arrive at various philosophical definitions


Identify and discuss the ways in which their respective philosophies reflect basic theological stances


Lectures and Tutorials

Indicative Bibliography

  • Ackrill, A. Aristotle the Philosopher. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981.
  • Barnes, Jonathon, ed. The Complete Works of Aristotle. 2 Vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984.
  • Barnes, Jonathon. Early Greek Philosophy . Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1987.
  • Biffle, Christopher. A Guided Tour of Five Works by Plato. 3rd ed. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Co., 2001.
  • Herman, Arthur. The Cave and the Light: Plato versus Aristotle and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization. Trade Paperback Edition. NewYork: Random House, 2014.
  • Kraut, Richard, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Plato. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
  • Melchert, Norman. The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy. 4th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2001. (recommended for purchase)
  • McKirahan, Richard D. Philosophy Before Socrates: An Introduction with Texts and Commentary. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Co., 1994.
  • Plato. The Collected Dialogues of Plato, including the Letters. Ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. Bollingen Series 71. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961.
  • Ring, Merrill. Beginning with the Pre-Socratics. 2nd ed. Mountain View: Mayfield, 2000.
  • Taylor, A. E. Plato: The Man and His Work. Dover Books on Western Philosophy. New York: Dover Books, 2011. (recommended for purchase)
  • Taylor, C.C.W., R.M. Hare and Jonathon Barnes. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle. Past Masters. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Online Participation (1000 words)

0 20.0

Essay (2000 words)

0 40.0

Essay (2000 words)

0 40.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 1 Nov, 2015

Unit record last updated: 2019-02-04 09:20:38 +1100